$10 mn Miami house may hold hidden Escobar loot: owner

Miami Beach (United States) (AFP) - A Miami Beach mansion once owned by Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar is being demolished by its current owner, who says he intends to search it for hidden loot before tearing it down.

Christian de Berdouare, who bought the property in 2014 for $10 million, said work to dismantle the house began Monday and could take two to three weeks.

"We have put together a team and we have had all kinds of people... with metal detectors, sonar, all kinds of things, in order to determine if there is anything hidden," said De Berdouare, the founder and CEO of Chicken Kitchen, a restaurant chain.

Escobar, once one of the world's richest men, ran the notorious Medellin drug cartel that was responsible for most of the cocaine imported into the United States in the 1980s and early 1990s. He died in 1993, aged 44.

De Berdouare said he thought the odds were fairly good of finding loot or drugs secreted by the famed Colombian drug overlord in the walls or floorboards of the house.

Escobar "used to hide money in all his houses," de Berdouare said.

He told AFP it was possible that valuables other than money were hidden in the house.

"It could be cash, could be gold, could be jewelry, could be dead bodies -- could be anything," he said.

De Berdouare said he plans to build a bigger and grander home on the site after tearing down Escobar’s property.